Why we're setting New Year's intentions instead of resolutions

In New Year’s Resolutions That Will Actually Lead to Happiness, published on Dec. 31, writer Arthur C. Brooks drives home the sad truth - that fewer than half of resolutions are still continuously successful by June and other surveys find even lower success rates—as low as 6 percent.


By now, it may come as little surprise to you that New Year's resolutions have a pretty low success rate, and yet, optimistically, year after year, we keep setting them. But what if we told you there is a better way?



Intentions vs. Resolutions


Here at Yoga Wake Up HQ, we're reframing resolutions as intentions. Resolutions tend to be clearly defined and measurable, such as weightloss or quitting sugar, whereas intentions are qualitative and more about embodiment, for example, feeling happier or nourishing yourself. Resolutions are rigid. Intentions offer up freedom. Let's face it - 2020 was hard enough. As we move through this new year, let's choose the more compassionate, gentle approach to goal setting, one in which we gradually move into what we envision and allow for movement, flexibility and time for them to fully blossom into fruition..


How to set an intention


How we go about defining our intentions begins with what the yogis call a "sankalpa", Sanskrit for an intention formed by the heart and mind. A sankalpa is usually framed as a statement beginning with "I am". Some beautiful examples from our teachers are below:


  • I am resilient

  • I am worthy of love

  • I am loved

  • I am guided

  • I am supported

  • I am capable

  • I am at home in my body

  • I am present

  • I am free

It is helpful to write your sankalpa or intention down and try it on for size. Feel free to have more than one and allow them to unfold and last as long as feels right to you. The beauty of a sankalpa is that it is open ended. It's important to remember that intentions are not goals. Goals put pressure on us and have an external outcome. Intentions align us with our purpose.


Intentions are set, now what?


Now that you have defined your intention or sankalpa, practice honoring it daily. It may be helpful to have it written in mantra form and where you will see it often. Feel free to share it with a friend and come back to it often, watering it like a seed and allowing it to flourish and change shape. On Yoga Wake Up, we have many sessions that you may practice with to seal in your intentions such as Dream Big with Alex Dawson or Handle It with Angela Leigh.


We would love to know what intentions you're setting for the new year. Feel free to drop them in the comments to inspire us and the community!

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